Water Fluoridation in Israel – Is Health Minister German’s new policy a good thing?

Health minister Yael German recently signed legislation making water fluoridation in Israel optional and not mandatory for each municipality (except in very low population localities), to take affect within a year.

Tap water pouring into a glass

Today’s Jerusalem Post English edition carries a very biased article by Judy Siegel,  Professors slam change to water fluoridation policy, which discusses two academics’ (from the Hebrew University Dental School’s Department of Community Dentistry) rebuke of this new policy. While German cites the ability of fluoride to cause harm to the health of the chronically ill and to pregnant women, apparently Siegel could find no one else with this point of view.

In her article she quotes the professors, Harold Sgan-Cohen and Jonathan Mann, who promote fluoridation of water as having across the board confirmation that it is

“the most efficient, cheapest and safest measure of dental health promotion that reaches across the socio-economic spectrum.”

They also discuss  the U.S. policy to fluoridate water saying:

“It is clear that if there were even just a small hint of harm, U.S. fluoridation of drinking water would be halted.”

She also reports that U.S. Surgeon-General Regina Benjamin officially endorsed community water fluoridation just this past Monday, and that the UK which doesn’t fluoridate their water presumably does not do so, because, according to

“An authoritative source in the British Medical Journal… the most sensible, intelligent, well-informed people here in the UK think fluoridation of the water is a very sensible idea but a very vocal minority of cranks have campaigned against it for so long and so vociferously that all attempts to introduce it here [except in the West Midlands] have come to nothing.”

I would argue that across the board acceptance of ingesting fluoride as being safe is without merit. Even the FDA mandated label warnings on toothpaste in the USA warning of the dangers to children of swallowing the toothpaste.

I also take issue with the fact that the U.S. would halt fluoridation if there was even a small hint of harm. One only has to look at the Vioxx debacle where people died as a result of taking this medication, yet it took several years for the FDA to require that it be discontinued.  And the FDA, pharmaceutical companies, and big business have revolving doors, whereby employees rotate between the FDA and big business.  I’m quoting here from The Huffington Post article: FDA Promotes Unsafe Milk Due to Industry Pressure, however the same information and more can be readily found on numerous sites.

“[Miller] wrote the FDA’s opinion on why milk from [rbGH]-treated cows should not be labeled. However, before coming to FDA, Dr. Margaret Miller was working for the Monsanto company as a researcher on [rbGH]. At the time she wrote the FDA opinion on labeling, she was still publishing papers with Monsanto scientists on [rbGH]. It appears to us that this is a direct conflict of interest to have in any way Dr. Miller working on [rbGH].”

As for the UK – I seriously doubt that only a “few cranks” don’t believe fluoridating water is a good idea and are holding up the works.

I just sent this Letter to the Editor to the Jerusalem Post:

Regarding your article: Hebrew University professors slam change to water fluoridation policy – Thursday, April 23, page 8

Dear Sir,

I, for one, would like to applaud Health Minister Yael German’s decision to make fluoridation of water optional. I agree that it is wrong to medicate an entire population for the (possible) benefit of a very few members while putting many others at risk. There are significantly greater risks to dental health from ingesting sugary drinks and refined products, which pull calcium and minerals from teeth and bones which, if addressed, would go a long way to improving dental and general health nationwide.

Although it may seem that there is unanimous agreement over the safety of fluoride in the U.S., your readers may be surprised to know that tubes of American toothpaste have the following FDA mandated warnings:

“Keep out of the reach of children under 6 years of age. If more than used for brushing is accidentally swallowed, get medical help or contact a Poison Control Center right away.
Children 2 – 6 years: Use only a pea sized amount and supervise child’s brushing and rinsing (to minimize swallowing).
Children under 2 years: Ask a dentist or physician”

If it is not safe for children to swallow this small amount of toothpaste, why is it safe for them to swallow presumably more fluoride from drinking water?

For more information see here and here.

The first article I referenced shows the toothpaste label warnings; the second article explains why there is waning support for fluoride supplementation and the dangers to children of ingesting fluoride toothpaste include acute poisoning with visits to the emergency room, skin rashes, and impaired glucose metabolism (which can result in diabetes and obesity):

Perhaps the most important, yet most overlooked, risk from excessive ingestion of fluoride toothpaste, is the impact it can have on blood glucose and insulin levels. In the 1980s, researchers at the University of Indiana reported that rats receiving acute, but relatively small, doses (0.5 mg/kg) of fluoride, had significantly higher glucose levels in their blood, and decreased levels of insulin. (Shahed 1986; Whitford 1987b). Since that time, numerous studies have repeated this finding (in both animals and humans) at doses which many children routinely ingest from fluoride toothpaste. It is now estimated, for example, that blood fluoride levels of just 95 ppb produce an increase in glucose levels and a decrease in insulin. (Menoyo 2005). Strikingly, this level is routinely exceeded by about 5 to 10% of children using fluoride toothpaste (particularly those living in fluoridated communities).

Watch this eye-opening video Professional Perspectives on Water Fluoridation to find out why most European countries do not fluoridate their water and what the medical professionals really say about the toxicity and numerous health dangers of fluoridated water.

I again applaud Health Minister Yael German’s new legislation regarding fluoridating water. I can only hope that most municipalities will halt it as soon as possible, even if only as a cost-saving measure. Enough with politics and bad science.

April 29, 2013: The above Letter to the Editor appeared in today’s Jerusalem Post.

Please note: Minister Litzman has reversed former Minister German’s directive.